I Spend Money to Save Time: 8 People Dish on the Everyday Tasks They Outsource

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Outsourcing … Household Chores

The Job: Cooking
Who: Susan Fitzell, 56, speaker and educational consultant, Manchester, N.H.
The Cost: $200 a month
Why I Think It’s Worth It: As a professional speaker, I spend almost 150 days out of the year on the road. My husband also has an hour-long commute and occasionally travels, and our two kids are heavily involved in after-school activities. As a result, we were eating fast food, pizza and other take-out because nobody had the time to cook a proper meal.

We found a personal chef through friends that offered several packages at different prices. We had a family meeting to do some number crunching, and picked a package that fit within our budget—it was around what we were spending on take-out food, but the bonus was that the chef cooked with healthy ingredients.

We have a long list of meals to choose from, and she comes in once a month and cooks quality meals that are then vacuum-sealed and frozen. We do pay for the groceries, but it’s reasonable, and we’re not charged extra for the shopping time.

If a mom is overextended and has a choice between cooking or spending quality time with her kids, I think she’d want to spend time with her children, which is priceless.

We are a middle-class family, so to make it fit within our budget, we just priced it out sensibly and did less non-essential spending. To me, it’s worth it, because I don’t think people put a high enough price on their time. If a mom is overextended and has a choice between cooking or spending quality time with her kids, I think she’d want to spend time with her children, which is priceless.

The Job: Laundry
Who: Dave Waring, 35, cofounder of a small-business resource site, New York City
The Cost: $25 twice a month
Why I Think It’s Worth It: I live in an apartment with no washer and dryer, so I have to go out and do my laundry. But I don’t like doing it, and when I do, it takes about two hours of my time.

So I have a local laundromat do it every two weeks; they pick it up and drop it off. I include it as a regular line item in my budget. It’s worth it to me because I value my time over paying what breaks down to $12.50 per hour.

The Job: Lawn maintenance
Who: Adam Angstadt, 29, operations manager, Bradenton, Fla.
The Cost: $140 a month
Why I Think It’s Worth It: I hire people to help me with lawn mowing and weed spraying. The cost of the lawn maintenance can fluctuate depending on the time of year. At its highest, it can come to $35 a week in the late spring, summer or early fall, and as low as $35 a month in the winter.

But regardless of the time of year, I keep it as a monthly line item in my budget of $140 a month.

I’m certainly able to mow my own lawn, but if I miss a week, it can take me double or triple the time to get it done with my push mower than it would for [the lawn workers]. That’s time that I can spend tending to the outside landscaping tasks that I do enjoy.

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  • pamb

    We pay a service to come and spray/aerate our yard several times a year. We pay a neighbor’s kid to mow. We pay a handyman to come to our house once we have enough things that need fixing. On the other hand, we bought a snow blower last year, and discontinued the plow service.

    We learned long ago to ask “what is your time worth”? As young newlyweds, my husband thought it would be a piece of cake to put together 2 armoires and a large dresser. Even with help from my dad, it was an entire weekend’s project. Never again. When we bought a swing set for our kids, we paid a professional to put it together correctly and securely. Well worth whatever we paid!

  • cc in nv

    Just be careful you’re being ethical. If someone else is doing something creative for you, they should get credit. And make sure you’re not hiring someone to market for you, when actually what they’re doing is spamming for you. I know people who are guilty on both of those counts.

  • Thats_Pretty_Powerful

    I recently saw an expert on time management cover this topic at a conference. He wrote a book on the subject. It motivated me to think about the day to day tasks that are keeping me from accomplishing what I really want in life and prompted me to write an article on it: http://thatsprettypowerful.com/why-youre-not-…ur-bucket-list/

  • http://thankably.com thankably

    We started Thankably.com just because a good friend was tired of writing thank you cards for his business clients!